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Sunday, November 14, 1999 Published at 00:53 GMT

World: South Asia

Analysis: No win situation

There is little sign that the UN will grant an extension

By regional analyst Pam O'Toole

With United Nations sanctions due to be enforced on Afghanistan's Taleban movement over harbouring the Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, no one appears to be expecting any last-minute breakthroughs.

The United Nations resolution insists the Taleban cease providing sanctuary and training for what it describes as international terrorist organisations.

The BBC's Kate Clark: "Sanctions are a symbol of the country's growing isolation"
It demands that Osama bin Laden, who has been indicted in the US for the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, be expelled to a country where he can face justice.

The Taleban are continuing to refuse to hand over the Saudi dissident.

They maintain that the US has been unable to produce evidence proving his involvement.

The Taleban - a movement that prides itself on its radical Islamic credentials - has little room to manoeuvre.

[ image: Postal services depend largely on the grounded airline]
Postal services depend largely on the grounded airline
The Taleban, they argue, simply cannot afford to be seen to deliver to the West a man who has not only been their guest, but who is regarded as an Islamic hero by many Moslems.

Such a move could provoke a backlash, not only from radical Islamic movement's abroad, but also from some of the Taleban's more extreme supporters at home.

The Taleban have put forward a number of compromises - including a reported offer by Osama bin Laden himself to leave the country for an undisclosed destination.

But all have been firmly rejected by the US and the UN.

Freeze assets

UN member states are obliged to freeze any assets held by the Taleban in their territories and bar international flights to and from Taleban-controlled areas.

These sanctions - while they will have some economic impact - are not expected to be devastating, particularly as humanitarian aid is exempted.

The Taleban do not have significant assets abroad, and operate few international flights.

Much may depend on how rigorously states like Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, who recognise the Taleban and have strong trading ties with them, implement the sanctions.

Nevertheless, the sanctions are regarded as an important symbol of the international community's toughening stand on the Bin Laden issue and also as a symbol of the Taleban's increasing diplomatic isolation.

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